Reverse Psychology: Temple Doesn’t Stand a Chance Against Cincinnati

I’ve been wrong about a lot in this column.

I once claimed that Temple’s defense was one of its weak points. I was dead wrong about that. I also claimed Temple’s wide receiver unit and offensive line were both major weaknesses. I was wrong about them and then I was right about them. I’m also on record saying that quarterback P.J. Walker would be the key to success this year; that the Owls wouldn’t go anywhere unless he matched or bettered his numbers from last year. And then I said he would in fact step up this year and be their best player.

I couldn’t have been more wrong about that stuff. So here’s to being wrong one more time.

Temple’s offense is atrocious. It cannot and will not beat Cincinnati this week.

Walker, one of the most promising young quarterbacks in the nation coming into this season, has been bad. His numbers across the board are down—20 touchdowns and eight interceptions in seven games last season (a Temple freshman record) have turned into 12 scores and 14 picks in 10 contests this year.

Walker’s numbers at home are somehow worse than on the road: At the Linc, he completes 4.0 percent less passes, almost a yard less per attempt, and gains almost a half-yard less per rushing attempt despite being sacked four less times than on the road. And those numbers include a home blowout (59-0) against Delaware State.

And he’s getting drastically worse. Here are his passing numbers by month:

  • September: 64.1% pass completion, five touchdowns, three interceptions
  • October: 47.7% pass completion, four touchdowns, six interceptions
  • November: 42.6% pass completion, one touchdown, five interceptions

With a bowl bid on the line, Temple needs to win one of its next two games.

Could it be time to go back to backup quarterback Connor Reilly? He was named their most improved player after 2013 spring practices. He put up 228 passing yards at Notre Dame in his first game as a starter but suffered a knee injury in his second. That injury lingered all season and eventually gave way to Walker.

But Walker hasn’t been the only one to struggle. Running back Jahad Thomas, a converted defensive back, looked like he would run away with the starting job (okay, okay, I recycled that joke) after rushing for 152 yards on 14 carries against Tulsa. But in the past two weeks, he’s had only eight total carries for 14 yards.

Kenny Harper, the powerful pass-catching back, saw an uptick in carries with 17 attempts for 116 yards against Memphis but then only had three against Penn State while Jamie Gilmore had seven.

During training camp, we didn’t know what we had with Temple. Nobody seemed to be able to secure any starting positions. There were more vacancies than not. By Week 3, that wasn’t the case anymore. Everybody knew their role.

Well, we’ve come full circle. We’re back to where we started. We don’t know who Temple is anymore.

And we don’t know if I’m good at reverse jinxes.

But we do know Temple won’t beat Cincinnati this weekend.

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